The Story of Valentine's Day

It's always hard for me to get into the Valentine's Day spirit. Part of it is because I spend every Valentine's Day doing the same thing: getting caught by Don Knotts in an embarrassing situation involving two dates on the same night with Playboy Playmates. A wacky and humorous existence? Yes, but even the antics of a crazy mix-up can get old after a while.

But nonetheless, I have decided to write a column on Valentine's Day which is difficult because every joke that has ever been written about Valentine's Day has been done before.

The lonely, can't-find-a-date, extraordinarily desperate joke? It's been done.

The bitter, I hate Valentine's Day joke? It's been done.

The "What's the deal with chocolates?" joke? Oh, you think it hasn't been done, but it has.

So instead of bringing you a trite, contrived column about Valentine's Day whose jokes you could see coming from a mile away, I thought that I would write a comprehensive history of Valentine's Day both to inform and entertain, all in 307-357 words:

Valentine's Day's namesake is, of course, St. Valentine, a priest who had so much love in his heart that he decided to break his vow of celibacy. He was beheaded by St. Hallmark, Patron Saint of Sappy Cards who decided that love should be a marketable commodity. So St. Hallmark invented St. Valentine's Day, which he decided was to be celebrated on the 14th of February for some reason.

The first Valentine's Day was celebrated in 1804, shortly after St. Hallmark had invented the printing press. He distrubuted cards to drugstores and card shops throughout the land. The very first Valentine's Day, there was only one card manufactured. Roughly translated from the original Latin in which it was written, the outside of the card said: "I hope that you will be my lover on this celebration of love, St. Valentine's Day." The inside of the card said "Our love will be pure and chaste, as the Lord has thusly sanctioned it." The card sold 900 million copies. Following the unprecedented success of the first Valentine's Day, St. Hallmark knew that its popularity would only spread and thus decided to expand its marketing capabilities by convincing the Catholic church to allow its members to eat chocolate, which was considered a sin. St. Hallmark was able to convince the church by means of exorbitant bribes.

After the first ten Valentine's Day, the popularity of the holiday began to wane. St. Hallmark knew that he would have to do something to freshen up the concept of love. In 1815, St. Hallmark sucessfully captured and beat into submission the Roman God of love, the diaper-clad Cupid. When Cupid came to, St. Hallmark convinced Cupid that he could help him cure his bowel control problems. Cupid bought it. The following Valentine's day, Cupid appeared on Valentine's Day cards. The marketing technique worked as the popular cards flew off the drugstore shelves. Unfortunately, St. Hallmark was not able to follow through on his end of the bargain and Cupid continued to wear a diaper.

Rather than hide his embarrassing bowel control problem, Cupid's diaper became his trademark. Indeed, today Cupid and his diaper are more recognizable than the original symbol of Valentine's Day: the savage beheading of St. Valentine.

Also appeared in the MU Student News, February 11, 2002